Notts County had to settle for a point this afternoon in a 0-0 draw with Scunthorpe United.
Notts created the better of the first half chances but the sides went into the break without a goal. Alan Judge, Lee Hughes and Mike Edwards all had good efforts but the United goalkeeper, Sam Slocombe was in fine form.
An action-packed second 45 again saw County have the better of the goalmouth opportunities but they were unable to make them count. Judge and Lee Hughes hit the woodwork with the best the Magpies' best efforts but the Iron could have netted themselves through Conor McAleny and Michael O'Connor, who also came close.
Following back-to-back defeats against two of the division's automatic promotion contenders, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United, the Magpies had dropped out of the Play-Off places. With only one point separating them from sixth-placed Carlisle United, Keith Curle's team had every chance of climbing back into the top six with three points at Glanford Park.
Their opponents, the Iron, also had something to play for in the latter stages of the season, as they sat four points clear of the relegation places. The hosts had followed up two wins with four consecutive draws and were eager to build upon that form to maintain their place in League 1 for 2012/13.
Curle handed debuts to two of his loan deadline day signings, Arsenal youngster Nico Yennaris and Blackpool frontman Daniel Bogdanovic, with his third, Louis Harris, named on the bench. Lee Hughes and Liam Chilvers returned to the starting 11, while Neal Bishop (suspended), Ben Burgess (loaned to Cheltenham Town), Jonathan Forte (injured) and Krystian Pearce dropped out of the squad.
Edwards, on his 300th County appearance, nearly marked the occasion with a goal inside the second minute. The centre-back applied a headed flick-on to Judge's in-swinging free-kick from deep but home stopper Slocombe dived acrobatically across his line to turn the ball around the post.
Both sides attempted to keep the ball on the turf but it was Notts that made better use of it in the final third. During the opening 20 minutes, Lloyd Sam almost applied a finish to a weighted Lee Hughes through pass, but was prevented from doing so by defender Jamie Reckford's well-timed challenge, and Judge fired wide of the bottom-left corner from 25 yards.
Scunthorpe's first serious attempt arrived on 23, when Jordan Robertson attacked at pace down the right wing. The hard-working frontman unleashed an unexpected, driven effort that clipped the top of the crossbar.
Josh Walker was next to threaten for the hosts, when he pounced on a loose ball outside the box to strike fiercely at goal. Edwards got his head in the way of the shot and the ball looped onto the roof of the net.
Five minutes before the break, County had a flurry of openings. The first came when Lloyd Sam latched onto Jeff Hughes' header but had a low effort blocked by Cliff Byrne, who had tracked his run closely.
From the resulting corner, Edwards cleared the bar with a header at the back post and then, moments later, Lee Hughes raced onto a long ball to shoot low into the arms of Slocombe. As the Magpies kept up the pressure, Judge had a powerful effort palmed clear and Lee Hughes chipped over from a tight angle.
In a scrappy start to the second period, United almost edged in front, after Robertson found Andy Barcham with a clever reverse pass in the right channel. Barcham carried the ball into the area and aimed for the near corner, where Nelson produced a reaction save.
Lee Hughes thought he had picked out the top-right corner moments later, from a direct punt forward. The forward had held up play at the edge of the area, before turning to swerve inches past the post.
Judge came even closer on 62, following a strong challenge on Kieron Freeman that prompted calls for a penalty from the travelling fans behind the goal. Play continued and Judge had a first-time hit from eight yards remarkably kept out by Slocombe, low to his left.
Nelson was then called into his finest stop of the afternoon, following the introduction of Iron's new loan signing, McAleny. The Everton striker gathered possession half-way into the County half and unleashed a low attempt, which forced Nelson into a diving stop.
It was exciting stuff at Glanford Park and a goal did not seem far away, especially for the Magpies, who hit the woodwork twice inside five minutes. Judge rose high to nod against the foot of the post from Alan Sheehan's centre and Lee Hughes had a header rattle the bar, following great trickery on the right flank by Sam.
The closing stages of the match could have seen it go either way. Parkin and substitute O'Connor both came within inches of scoring with free-kicks, whereas, for the Magpies, Sheehan and Judge struck narrowly over.
During added time, there was one final chance for the points to be stolen, when pressure from Lee Hughes forced an error from Slocombe, who had raced out of his area to clear. Judge collected but his long-range effort found the away fans rather than the net.
Attendance: 4,619 (919 away supporters)
Man of the Match: Liam Chilvers